“…oh, when I’m home again in England and I’m thinking of you…”

Tuesday night I went to a lifesaver of a concert. It’s been a bit stressful chez Guiney lately and Tuesday was particularly bad. But the day ended, the evening began and I found myself in the audience watching Leon Russell come onstage to the opening bars of Delta Lady and that lyric above which has haunted me since my college days, even before I had ever been here.  Leon Russell was one of my first big rock n roll addictions. While everyone else was listening to the Grateful Dead, I was listening to Leon. Even now, when I head over to Martha’s Vineyard for the summer, which I’m doing next week, one of the first things I do is put Leon Russell on the stereo (or the 21st Century equivalent) and sing at the top of my lungs — don’t worry, I get it out of my system before the rest of the family arrives. But I tell you, there has always been for me something about the gravel in his voice, the amazingly unique honky tonk of his keyboards, his lyrics that say so much more than they seem to…….

I first saw him in 1973. He looked ancient then, but probably because then, as now, his face was  hidden beneath a cowboy hat, long white hair and a long beard. Last night he still looked the same, like Methuselah, only now he walked slowly and with the aid of a cane. But once he sat down at the keyboard… He sang lots of old favourites like “Hummingbird,” “Prince of Peace” and “Song for You.” But he also played songs from Dylan, Rolling Stones, the Beatles and of course, Joe Cocker.

So why am I going on like this? Well, it’s a bit spiritual, innit. On a day when nothing much made sense, one aging rocker from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who happened to have lived in England once upon a time ago, who happened to have written some of the songs I have loved the most my whole life long, sat a few meters away from me, just when I needed him, and as if ushering me into the summer, brought me home to myself. The universe does provide.